Whiteboards Revived

Whiteboards can get really messy but are not too difficult to bring back to life if you follow a few simple tricks. 

Tips for Cleaning WhiteboardsDon't use the wrong types of cleaning products as these may damage the surface. Abrasive cleaners remove the surface coating making it much harder to clean next time when the ink has soaked into the sub-surface. 

What you need for a “full” whiteboard clean

  • Dry eraser
  • Dry erase markers
  • Rubbing alcohol from a chemist
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Tissues or lint-free cloth

The process

  • First clean as much as you can using a normal clean dry whiteboard eraser – this removes dry dust.
  • For any small marks that remain, before you try other cleaners, draw over the offending mark with a new dry erase marker, then wipe it off. Often this will remove stains or marks without resorting to the measures below.

  • For more stubborn areas or to clean the whole board surface make-up a spray solution. Mix 1 part “rubbing alcohol” with 3 parts of water in a clean spray bottle (if you don't have access to a propriety whiteboard cleaner made especially for whiteboard cleaning) .

  • Shake the spray bottle before use to thoroughly mix the ingredients.

  • Spray the board with the cleaner then wipe clean using dry tissues or a cloth.

  • Apply a little undiluted rubbing alcohol on a clean cloth and leave for about 2 minutes for permanent marker or very stubborn stains.

  • The process may smear the ink as you clean so you may need to repeat the process a few times with clean dry tissues or cloth.

  • Leave the whiteboard to dry for 30 minutes or longer after cleaning

This water alcohol spray can be used to brighten a whiteboard that has become dull.

This cleaning process, and almost any other, doesn't work so well on stains that have remained on the board for many weeks, so the trick is to clean regularly. (there are graffiti type cleaners for boards that don't come clean with this process – see the links below for details)

Always allow the cleaned board to dry out thoroughly before re-use. The whiteboard may feel dry to touch but it needs at least half an hour or more to dry thoroughly before you write on it again. Ideally clean at the end of the day, or at the end of the week, to give the whiteboard a good chance to dry completely.

The name "rubbing alcohol" is a term for either isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol) or ethyl alcohol (ethanol) products that are readily available from most chemists shops, the term rubbing come from the use as a medical skin cleanser.

Whiteboards, including Interactive Whiteboards are made with melamine, coated steel or vitreous enamel surfaces - melamine is the lowest cost but the easiest to damage with incorrect cleaning materials


Ensure that you are working in a room with adequate ventilation to remove fumes when using an alcohol cleaner

Always test whiteboard cleaners in an inconspicuous area of the board to ensure your board tolerates the cleaner.

Check the product label warnings. Labels for rubbing alcohol usually include a number of warnings about flammability hazards and its intended use only as a topical antiseptic and not for internal wounds or consumption. Use in a well-ventilated area due to inhalation hazards. Poisoning can occur from ingestion, inhalation, or consumption. Avoid contact with eyes. Keep safe from children.

Read more:

Whiteboard cleaning - test results for many cleaning materials

How to clean a whiteboard - David Alexander Smith

How to make a whiteboard clean - eHow

How to clean whiteboards - eHow Family


About the Author

David Edis-Bates, C.Eng MIET spent more than 30 years in export related communication, IT and electronics activities around the world. He lived in Taiwan for 4 years in the late 70’s and in China since 2004. He taught part time in further education for several years in the UK and is currently CEO of EdisAV doing more of what he enjoys doing most.

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